Bed Bath & Beyond uses QR Code

In a recent Sunday newspaper, there was a circular from Bed Bath & Beyond, which featured a couple of QR Codes. One code was for a coffee maker, the other for a product called SodaStream, which turns tap water into carbonated water.

After reviewing a number of 2D-based ads like this one, I believe a new category needs to be created called 2D infomercials, not advertisements, but infomercials. A subtle difference, maybe, but a difference nonetheless. When the code is scanned, the reader of the ad is linked to a 2:38 You Tube video, which is essentially the same as a television infomercial. Nothing more. Nothing less. (How many times have I written that before?) No mobile website or page, no links to any other content or product information, no incentive to purchase, no store locator, no product reviews, no ability to share via a social network, no celebrity endorsement, no exclusive interview...need I continue.

Actually, I would consider this type of campaign to be less than an infomercial. At least with an infomercial, the consumer is provided with a phone number to call, an address to write to and/or a time period to act by, etc. There is none of that here.

Not only is there absolutely no experience to experience with this campaign but, from a pure print advertising perspective, do you see what's been done? For readers of the ad who might not have a smartphone or wish to scan the code, Bed Bath & Beyond has included a long URL next to the code. Does the company really believe/expect a reader is going to be so interested in this "revolutionary" product that they are going to go running to their desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile phone to tediously enter a 42 character URL? Bed Bath & Beyond might, but I sure don't. Great that the company wants to be inclusive and offer the video to both smartphone and non-smartphone users alike, but there are other, more efficient, ways of doing this.

Also, why does the company and others refer to the QR Code as a tag? The symbol is a QR Code, call it a QR Code. Don't be afraid. And, why do we keep seeing the term "snap" in 2D-based ads? There is no snapping involved when scanning a code.

I have a sneaking suspicion that, when asked, Bed Bath & Beyond would say they are experimenting with 2D and that's why they only went this far with the campaign, if it can even be called a campaign. So, what happens next? The objectives for this "experiment" are not fully achieved and management rethinks the use of 2D, only to sideline it for months to come. Then what? 

2D Barcode Litmus Test: FAIL


  1. One can only guess that the "snap" and "tag" came from their initial research that had them looking at Microsoft Tags and the nomenclature stuck?

    To the rest of it?

    Clearly, there is a pattern emerging.

    Companies are sticking codes (or tags) on their existing ads so they can say they can be part of something they know nothing about. They don't spend time or money or an ounce of thought. They use existing (old) video assets that cost them nothing.

    They don't realize that consumers are going to start ignoring codes (and tags) due to the extreme negligence in execution of these initial "experimental" efforts.

    While there's so much "now we're mainstream" hype going on around codes (and tags), I have to wonder if consumers will ever really take to this? Just because Best Buy and Home Depot have thousands of codes in their stores and every ad includes a code leading to some meaningless mobile content, does that mean anyone is scanning them?

    Do we really need ten thousand codes in a single store? Or, every ad to carry a code? How much time do we really have to leave what's in front of us and segue to a digital experience?

    More importantly, is anyone looking forward to their next scan? I know I'm not. And that's a shame. QR codes were supposed to be special. They are becoming meaningless.

  2. Anonymous:

    Thank you for the comment.

    As you can imagine, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have often wondered about the use of codes at stores like Best Buy (i.e., dozens and dozens of codes used throughout), what they really mean and how often they are really scanned versus how much product is being purchased.